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Notes on 354 Marlborough Road maintenance &c

Categorized Notes

Below are things to do to get it ready for home-away use.

1. Shower

I've decided to put the shower right where the bath is now. It can fit there. It would nice to have more room, but it will work. The steps to making it work are, roughly:
  • remove tub
  • move supply plumbing to other end (open some walls)
  • add skylight (Ny Seniuk?)
  • tile
  • add triangular glass wall
  • add door

I should get at least two contractors to look at this job and give estimates, and the plan should be to start work in early January. That means I should contact Phoebe's person and one other early in December.

-- BenDugan - 28 Nov 2013

-- BenDugan - 17 Jan 2014 (updated)

2. Light Switches

Mostly I suspect this is just a matter of going into each room and setting it up so that the light switches actually control a light. Mom has lots of table lights and other lights that need to be turned on individually and this is not simple enough for visitors. Its something I noticed walking through the house with Phoebe Turner, who kept reaching for switches.


Got proposal for electrical upgrade from Rich Johnson. Questions:

  • says no permits or inspections -- will they be needed?
    • prob not necessary but might help with later sale or with insurance
  • without an inspection, will there be any insurance benefit?
    • didn't ask, but I assume no
  • if I sign & return, can we still do a room or two at a time?
    • didn't ask, but this is what we'd discussed initially
  • does he need to go in any particular order? (I'd like him to do bedroom 1 first)
    • ask on Friday
  • when can the work start?
    • maybe soon

-- BenDugan - 12 Jan 2014

3. Floors

Get the wood floor upstairs waxed. Replace the kitchen tile with a sheet material. I think the pink kitchen tiles are very "Mom" and I don't like changing them, but I think I should.

TIME: kitchen floor 2 weekends, waxing upstairs 2 weekends?

4. Roof

If there is extra in the loan, pay a roofer to put new shingles on.

5. Kitchen

Replace countertops with corian. Replace overhead light with something brighter.

TIME: At least 3 weekends of work.

Probably going to use formica instead of corian: want it to be really tough, and really liked the one they had in Ocean Beach (which was black).

The counters are:
  • 25" x 67" (includes 7/8" end piece)
  • 25" x 84" - with sink

The backsplash is 3.75" over the counter.

I priced counters from Lowes yesterday made to these spec.s and they would $15.35/sq ft plus $80 shipping plus tax. On the other hand, a 30" x 96" sheet of the material is $42.

-- BenDugan - 27 Jan 2014

6. Clutter

This is the big one: about half of everything in the house should go. The overall order is: family takes stuff first (push them hard to take as much as possible!), then choose some things to get rid of (sell, trash, or goodwill), then store just a little.

TIME: Probably 6 weekends

7. Water

Phoebe Turner suggests her plumber to check the pipe size (for volume) and the treatment system (for type). She thinks the flow and water quality can be made good. I'm skeptical, but its worth a try.

Here are a few links about water treatments:

I think our issues are:
  1. iron (either chemical or bacteria)
  2. dissolved sulfur dioxide (also either chemical or bacterial)


Joe Watson got the results from the bacteria test: the water did not have bacteria in it. He kept the other two water samples in his fridge for a few days and he can see "iron algae" or "floaters" (!) that are orange deposits that settled out when it sat-- these are only on the raw untreated water.

I see salt-free conditioning systems online, but they seem to be aimed at calcium and manganese (which produce scale) rather than iron. One of the things these make clear is that soft water feels weird. This has also made me think more about what are my own priorities:

  • sulfur: get rid of that smell!
  • iron stains: the water used to stain everything, so its good that it no longer does
  • slick feeling: I'd rather it didn't feel slick
  • consistent quality: right now it seems very dependent on usage

If there are no bacteria, the smell comes from dissolved H2S. A UV light would presumably not help. Maybe chlorine? Or aeration?

-- BenDugan - 17 Dec 2013

The latest from Joe Watson is that our water softener is working properly now removing the iron but that we need something else to handle the sulfur. That would be either a carbon filter (cheaper up front, more expensive recurring costs) or a "simplus" filter (~$1000 + labor up front, low running costs, plus another tank in our basement). Master is pushing the Simplus because, they say, when the water usage is low the carbon filter will need to be replaced more often (which sounds wrong to me, but maybe its not).

Its been very slow to get any kind of good help from Watson on this, and I am wishing I could find someone really wise about the issues who could make impartial and creative suggestions. I'm also thinking I should get the test results from Joe for our water. I have a suspicion, which is only based on not seeing the test results, that the water out of the ground is better in some ways than the water out of the Master system.

There are a million web sites but most are just pushing products. This one seems a bit better than average for information (but their filter holders are $200 compared to < $100 on

-- BenDugan - 29 Jan 2014

Learning about what we have now:

  • "NS" means neutralizer/softener

The "NS mix" is calcite based, at least in the top stage. It sounds like the bottom stage is the same for the various combinations that Master makes -- its always described as "removing the hardness and the ferrous iron". Other top stages are birm based (FES units) or carbon based (MP-TS/TS units). The FES one sounds good for us, but I think it needs neutral water and ours probably isn't.

The NS combination unit is downstream from an "MM" filter unit, which I think Joe Watson said is a graded pile of media. The Master description says it "reduces turbidity particles as small as 10 microns". The same filter tank could have an "AC" medium which sounds like it might be carbon, and is supposed to reduce chlorine taste and unpleasant taste -- I think that's also how the carbon filters are sometimes described.

-- BenDugan - 30 Jan 2014

This company makes an aeration system that I think sounds promising:

-- BenDugan - 05 Feb 2014

Found D & D Golder as an alternative to Joe Watson but am now concluding they are not great, either.

They tested the water, found bacteria, I paid them to shock it, the re-tested, it still has bacteria, so they want to sell me a UV disinfector. I found one online and am going to install it myself. Just got done paying them $700 to replace the pressure tank.

I think there's a problem with the well. There is probably groundwater getting into it. These are tihngs I can do:

  • replace the cap with a water-tight one (need to measure the casing diameter next time I'm there)
  • grade the ground away from the well
  • shock it again but leave the chlorine in for 24 - 48 hours
  • add a UV disinfector

I ordered the UV thing today so I can install it next weekend. Need to do that because there's a guest coming in two weeks.

I cut down the pine there partly because I thought its roots might be hitting the well casing. Now I think a general cleanup all around it would be wise, too.

Also need to:
  • find the well data (how deep, how deep is pump, how deep is casing)

-- BenDugan - 6 Sep 2019

Plan for this weekend:
  • install UV sterilizer
    • turn off water, break line after softener
    • mount lamp
  • shock well
    • inspect: are there bugs, spider webs, etc? How does the casing look?
    • take cap off, measure casing diameter
    • add bleach, etc.
    • repace cap with sealed one
  • landscape around well head
    • clean up, remove bushes, weed, etc.

8. Toilets

Probably both toilets should just be replaced, but definitely the upstairs one should. Its mostly a matter of first impression.

9. Laundry

Move the washer to the garage. Probably throw away the laundry tub. I feel bad about doing that, but I think its got to go.

- Now I'm thinking it might be better to move the washer just into the space outside the laundry room, since its heated. And leave the drier in the garage? -- BenDugan - 21 Sep 2013

TIME: 2 weekends

10. Basement

Remove darkroom. Add fluorescent lights. Look for ways to make it drier: Maybe grade the ground outside, or find drain issues.

11. Painting

Paint a few of the rooms (Steve Leo). Not sure which is top priority yet.

12. Windows

A lot of the sashes have to have the counterweights fixed. Also some of the windows have mold visible which could spook some visitors. Those need to be cleaned and painted. I fixed one of the sashes on 10/25. Its not too bad-- probably 1.5 hours per window. The window trim will need a touch-up afterwards. As for the cleaning and mold: there is a lot more condensation than I remember, especially on the 2nd floor. Yesterday I removed 2nd floor screens that had been in place for a few years, and put in storms. I did a cursory clean on the windows, too. I'll be interested to see how the stay now. Some of them might need better seals than they have.

The screens should be renovated now for the spring. They have aged quite a bit and need paint at least.

The numbering scheme is like this:


Counterweights: after fixing 3 of these windows (5 weights), there is a trick that's worth noting. The middle bar kind of locks the doors, and also blocks the weight from being removed if its left in place. It can be pulled out with pliers, giving a left/right wiggle first to crack the paint seals. The weight "doors" can be scraped clean and then come out easily, too. The whole thing can be done without much prying and much denting wood if some care is used. The 2 putty knives + 1 screwdriver in between is a good trick. And only one of the side trim moldings needs to be pulled off.

13. Locks

There are some great looking wifi connected deadbolts. The codes can set remotely, and limited to certain times, and when the codes are used can be monitored. Sounds perfect-- we'll know when people come & go. There are remote thermostats, too, for turning the temp up & down and for reporting the temp.

After a closer look I'm not as sure about these. My biggest problem is with having to use a server and pay monthly fees. The other thing is cost. The remotelock is $250 for the lock and then either $1 or $2 per month. Then the thermostats is another $170, plus $1/mo. So it would be about $400 plus $3/mo. That isn't too bad. And it would be really helpful to know when people come & go. But we could have a motion sensor and/or webcam and an eeePC easily.

Z-wave is something to look into: its an rf network for home use that can be used with tools that don't require monthly paid services. One controller for that is called the vera3. But there might be a USB-to-zwave device or something so that the eeepc could be the controller. --Yep: here's one.

14. Thermostat

15. Security Generally

My goal is to be able to keep a good eye on the place from an hour away. I think the main thing is to add one or two wireless web cams. It'd be great to have one indoors but I think that's too much of a privacy invasion. Better is to have one facing out at each outside door (back door, front door, and garage). That will show people coming & going and can easily time-stamp those things. -- BenDugan - 01 Dec 2013

16. Mom's Room

About 3 weeks to:

  • remove furniture temporarily
  • sand floors, polyurethane
  • un-switch receptacle
  • add wall light to switch
  • paint
  • put furniture back
  • decorate

-- BenDugan - 30 Nov 2013

17. Heater

Last year I adjusted the setpoints on the heater and I thought I made some notes but I can't find them now. The net effect was that, instead of the radiator near the dining table getting scorching hot and the rest staying cold, most of the radiators were warm, at least a little.

I did take photos, though, and the settings in the photos (from Feb 2014) show different numbers than where they are now. I'm not sure if they are set now as I had left them, or if the heater service guy set them (sometime in the late summer).

There is a "diff", and a high and a low. This page explains what these are about but its not perfectly clear. I think the idea is that the burner will run to keep the water in the tank above the LOW number and will shut off when it reaches the HIGH value. When its circulating (as told to by the thermostat) the burner will stay off until the temp in the tank falls below high-10°.

DIFF is apparently to "lockout" the circulation if the tank temp drops below low-diff.

-- BenDugan - 09 Nov 2014

Painting time estimate: 2 hours empty room, 6 hours prep (based on good overall condition-- put down paper, a little spackling, a little sanding), 2 x 5 hours paint walls, 5 hours trim = 23 hours total at $30/hour = $690. That's a very rough estimate. But figure its one month of lost rent from Steve Leo. But what matters is that I can use that time for other work that needs to be done at 354: mainly getting the bigger things figured out and set up for Jan/Feb (like the bathroom renovation, mainly). -- BenDugan - 01 Dec 2013

Log (notes by date, not categorized)

The lower hinge on one of the garage doors (the one we always use) was coming off-- I put in one new good screw and tightened the rest. Then cut vegetation away from around it and made sure the cement area is clean so its not hanging up on that.

The turnbuckle on its mating door was messed up a bit: coming off on the low end because the threads were painted, so when its torqued it just wants to bend the strap out. I replaced the screw, flattened the strap, and worked the threads back & forth a little with some oil so it works now. When I adjusted both doors again they seem to work well, the way I remember them working. But more may be needed.

The counter with the sink is aging: it must have absorbed some water and expanded, especially at the right hand side, so that the formica strip on the end is popping off. I used some gorilla glue and wedges/clamps to try to fix it but we'll see. The particle board underneath is sketchy.


The CFL over the bench in the basement was dead, because its a CFL. I replaced it with another one because that's all I could find.

The bsmt has had standing water from the look of it but its dried out now.

Ran a load of towels through the washer; it leaked some water on to the floor. Probably splashing from the lint trap thing but I didn't see it in action so not sure.

Washed the 2nd fl toilet which was dirty and moldy.

The wifi was off, because the grounded outlet in the breakfast room had a blown breaker. Why? Reset it and it seems fine.

Two plants in Mom's room had died so I threw them out. I think they were Christmas cactuses.

Next time: Go around and pull out Poke plants that are growing here & there. (I think the sharecropper has quit.) I'd love to put a few fluorescents in the basement so it bright down there. I think it'd be a much more useful space that way. Also: try to figure out where basement water comes from. Is there a downspout near the front door?

-- BenDugan - 21 Jul 2013

I'm going out tomorrow night with Max. Will stop on the way to dinner and put all the sheets in the washer, then dry them after we eat. Also want to do a once-over with the duster to get cobb webs. And pick up whatever rent Steve Leo has. I'm thinking Owen might be coming down before/after the beach so I want to clean it up a bit.

-- BenDugan - 06 Aug 2013

Jeni and I spent last night there with the dogs-- it was nice. Jeni cleaned up the kitchen this morning: things had been kind of creeping toward the center from the walls so the counters were all getting small. I started cleaning up the garage a little and was planning to move the gardening stuff into the shed, but the shed is a lot more full than I thought it was.

Next time
  1. pull out poison ivy - take gloves & garbage bags
  2. destroy cold frame and throw out
  3. look at water system:
    • where does it enter house?
    • is there only one?
    • can I check the quality and flow there?

-- BenDugan - 01 Sep 2013

I'm going out today. Will start with poison ivy eradication (!). But I'm also going to get a pile of stuff ready to be taken by Marlene Drewes. Should wind up with more room in the store room and garage. Also need to call Mitzi and arrange to have the files taken by John Rosecranz, but I want to look at them first.

Maybe I can document the file cabinets to help the brothers decide what to do with them?

-- BenDugan - 07 Sep 2013

Did most of the poison ivy work but there's a little to finish today. Andrea Morris was here-- I guess she just pulls up and checks on the place from time to time. She was talking and I got distracted from the ivy, then I started to worry that I had touched it so I changed my clothes and washed up.

The main thing yesterday is that the KURC people came here (John O., Rusty Jones, Marlene, and Mary) and took it was away everything that I had brought to the garage, which was a lot of stuff. So now there's room in the storeroom and the E closet in the MBR.

I took Jimmer's car around the woodsy-poodsy block to let it breathe a little, and then washed it and ours. Jimmy has one key and I put the other one on the middle shelf in the corner cabinet. Since I want to be able to park two cars next to each other in front of the garage, I pruned back the bushes there. I think I'll get a pruning saw today to hit the thick stuff that's left.

I was talking about the driveway with Jimmy and he's going to do something with his backhoe to make it a clear driveway: not sure what exactly but he said he did it for Mom before so I'm sure it'll be fine.

I put the fiberglas panel back it with glazing points around the drier vent pipe. When I was cleaning the windows I found a lot of greasy brown film. It seemed like oil that had been vaporized from running a motor but it could be tar from smoking, too. It was also built up on the light bulb and that fixture, so I cleaned that up too.

Used a plane to shave a little off from the screen door into the garage and replaced the spring so it can "salam" as in Thunder Road. I just want it to be able to stay mostly shut on warm days when the door is left open. The better fix would have been to put a turnbuckle thing on it: that would make the latch line up right.

I think I'll photograph the file tabs for the files John Rosecranz is aiming to take today. That way we'll know what he took and I can show the brothers, too. He says Mom had already asked him to take that stuff be he just hadn't come over in time.

-- BenDugan - 08 Sep 2013

Next time: bring silver paint for shed roof. -- BenDugan - 19 Sep 2013

The rug in the MBR needs a new pad under it. Its dissolving.

I repainted the roof on the shed using paint/roof sealer I had in Philly. It must've been older than I thought-- the bottom 6 inches were solid. But it worked out. The shed has a lot of rot and something like termite damage. I tore up the cold frame which was really rotted out and also pruned back the hollys to make some space for air. It seems like there's mold and algae all over stuff. I'm thinking of taking down one or more of the hollys to get a little sun there. But I won't jump on that. It might be the wrong idea.

-- BenDugan - 28 Sep 2013

I spent Friday night (this is Sunday) there-- actually went to the IAC with Tom Walton and had too many beers. On Saturday I trimmed some of the rhododendrons and cleaned the gutters. And trimmed the yew by the front door to make the front step clear.

Next time: get rope for the sash weights and try to fix one of them. Put porch furniture in garage. -- BenDugan - 21 Oct 2013

Spent Friday night there. Fixed one of the sash weights. Put in all storm windows except for 2nd floor bathroom. This was time consuming because Mom had had screens in some of the 2nd floor windows for years. Some of them were painted in. I think its a lot "tighter" now so more ready for winter. Put the porch furniture in the garage (left one chair). Got 8 bags of salt for the water machine. Betsy came out on Saturday and helped go through the clothes and textiles in the cedar closet, and also threw out Mom's shoes and underwear. And she went through Mom's pocketbook because she knew that would be hard for any of us to do. I bagged everything up to give to the Salvation Army but I took pictures of things that I thought people might want a look at at. -- BenDugan - 27 Oct 2013

Planning to set up a z-wave based monitoring system. Eventually it will manage the front door lock and thermostat, but not immediately. It will also have a interior motion sensor and thermometer (probably built into the thermostat). Z-wave looks like it makes it easy to set up wall switches for lights w/o rewiring, and I'll be able to monitor light usage remotely which is a nice added security benefit.

But to test this I should just put in the PC and something basic, so I see how it works. Today ordered a kwikset lock for $100 which seems to be about half of the standard price now, and a USB "Aeon" controller, and a motion/temperature sensor. They'll come later this week. If I get a PC set up I could conceivably put it at the house after settlement and be monitoring the temprature to make sure the pipes don't freeze. The controller and motion sensor were also about $100, so I have spent $200 so far.

-- BenDugan - 02 Nov 2013

The support of z-wave in linux looks sketchy. This is the most promising angle I've found so far: Improvements

Today I went out in mid-afternoon. I fixed the counterweights on two more windows in the living room, so all of those work now, I think.

-- BenDugan - 03 Nov 2013

I'm at a home-away place in Ocean Beach, San Diego, and wanted to write down a few impressions. The main one is a perception that the house here is very well thought-out: things are where they should be and just the right things are provided. What you notice is bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room: Each thing that you want, and is there, is a nice surprise. Yesterday I did laundry, and there was detergent, so it was so easy! In the shower there's a soap/shampoo/conditioner dispenser which is also great. A visitor might want to use their own -- they might not like the smells or something -- but its just great that this stuff is available of you forgot to bring your own.

The light switches here are not perfectly discoverable, but they are plenty good. There's only one light that has to be turned on by touching it.

The shower is a great size and its just about perfect. Its 48" x 28", within 1 or 2 inches. Its got nice yellow and grey tile. The bathroom sink is a very nice small round one in a corner-mounting. But when I shave I get water and shaving cream all over everything there.

So the trick is: how do we make 354 work in such a way that visitors get surprised by its effectiveness and comforts? Its a comfortable place to start with. But we have to identify the small weaknesses and try to address them. Some may be difficult (water treatment) and others just need some thought (shower). -- BenDugan - 14? Nov 2013

Today I demo-ed the darkroom. This is what it looked like at half-gone:


And here is fully gone:


It was more work than I expected. The plumbing was a little messy. Its the first time I saw a 1/2 copper tee with a 3/8" piece of pipe soldered inside a 1/2" piece to make it fit. And the cold line was galvanized steel with a kind of zig-zag of 3-4 18" pieces. But it did work. And I think my caps also work (don't leak).

-- BenDugan - 17 Nov 2013

Had to meet the furnace-checker from Taylor Oil (Jeffrey) at 4pm. Picked up metal cutting wheels at Sears. Cleaned gutters and then swept leaves away from house. There are more leaves than when we were kids, and they pile up against the house. Looks like a critter haven, so I swept them away and, sure enough, sent a small black furry guy running for cover near the back door. He or she was blacker than a mouse but about that size, probably a mole, probably living in a pit there that has a piece of fiberglas over it. I'll get rid of that soon, too. Without the leaves on it it'll be a cold house anyway, so they'll probably push off. I don't have a lot of physical pep tonight to, for example, start cutting up the sander. I'll look into open-zwave some more and have a beer. I'm starting to think security is the next priority.

This is helpful for compiling it on my laptop; it'll probably help on the eeepc too.

-- BenDugan - 18 Nov 2013

OK: got the usb zwave thing working following the directions from Piethein Strengholt (just above). Its presents a crude-looking web interface that shows temperature and light values from the sensor I got recently from homeseer. Can't seem to get motion yet, but still, this is progress. I'm still testing on the laptop, will move to eeepc next.

-- BenDugan - 20 Nov 2013

Set up an eeepc at 354 with ozw, and tested it with the HSM-100 "multisensor". A few things:
  • have to run the ozw control panel with sudo
  • port forwarded :1234 to the eeepc through the actiontec router
  • also port forward ssh to the eeepc
  • followed the linode security guide so ssh uses no passwords, only keys
  • next morning the ozw control panel had to be restarted, which is no good.

So I think where this stands now is that ozw works but its not a real solution yet. The motion sensor is smart in a way: it defaults to just sending a motion 'ON' signal once in 20 minutes. But I think it checks more often than that (not sure). What I need to do next is just get it to send when that goes from off to on, preferably a text message. So:
  • will the eeepc send an email?
  • how to get ozw to send an email (to the text phone number)?

I didn't spend much more time on the computer stuff today.

I removed the Brita filter thing from the kitchen sink, because the aerator had broken. I may replace it but not sure. Then I replaced the fill-pipe thing in the laundry room toilet, because the old one made the water trickle into the tank. Now it fills perfectly fast. But at first the water looked kind of milky. I flushed it a few times and it became clear. Also, it smelled sulfurous in the laundry basin very strongly for a few minutes. Once it flows its not so bad. I think something has bacteria in it, but I can't prove it yet. I also think the galvanized pipe are weird.

I also removed a lot if ivy from the apple tree near the road because it looks like it was taking over the tree. And cut some dead limbs off it. And cut about half the limbs away from the wires. I'll do the other next time when Jimmy's not around. I think its only in the cable and phone wires, not the electric wires. Also cut dead limbs from the oak near the apple. And started a new burn pile.

-- BenDugan - 23 Nov 2013

After Thanksgiving Jimmer and Owen got tons done at Marlborough. It was a huge help: we all went through the stuff in Mom's room so its conceivable now that we might get it into a condition that others can use it. All of her drawers are empty, and her bookcases, too. We saved 3 long bankers boxes of books, but we slated 7 or so for donation. And she had a lot of clothes, which are bagged up for donation now, too.

Next Saturday I'll meet the plumber there and Sandra Grant will also come and do some cleaning. I would now like to focus on re-doing Mom's room so its ready for use before Christmas. See Mom's Room below.

-- BenDugan - 30 Nov 2013

Yesterday I removed everything that was still in Mom's room: the bed, the dresser, and the things we'd all decided not throw away. Its empty now. Steven Leo looked at it, will start painting this week, and it'll cost something like a month of rent. I'm hoping to sand and polyurethane the floors next weekend, or take a bite out of them anyway.

Also met Joe Watson and looked at the water situation. He seems confident it can be fixed, though he thinks its an issue that the use is not constant. The first step is to test the water, which he'll do this week, both for chemicals/sediment and also for bacteria. He's also going to fix a leak on the heater and replace the compression tank on the heater which he said is defective. It became clear that the radiators are plumbed wrong: they're in series and should have "monoflow tees" allowing them to be balanced. But this isn't an immediate issue.

I don't like the galvanized water main in the basement and I'd like to see it replaced with copper, but I'll see how Joe's bills work before asking him to do that.

And Sandra Grant cleaned from 9:30 to 4 or so, for $150 (I gave her $175). She's great. But it'd be better for me to be away when she's there because she likes to talk and it keeps me from focusing. But the house got a good going-over.

I boxed up the desk contents and put the desk in the garage. And I took 5 bags of clothes to Re-Store in Kennett.

-- BenDugan - 08 Dec 2013

Joe Watson called yesterday to say that he'd been at the house & taken water samples. He dropped the bacteria one off and will have those results today. The other two (before and after the Master system) will be sent in and take a little longer to get back. He said the water smelled very sulfurous when he ran it straight from the well, so he thinks some kind of odor treatment will be needed, which means carbon or UV. I am pushing for shocking the pump and putting in fresh charges on the Master system, but we'll see.

Joe also replaced the leaking heater valve and expansion tank.

-- BenDugan - 12 Dec 2013

Took the house history files to Mary Sue Boyle at 9 am. It was 4 drawers in two cabinets, and they had been in the laundry room. Three drawers were labeled "House Histories" and the 4th was labeled "Linden Street", but I think it was histories of the house on that street. I asked Mary Sue Boyle about that and she said she'll check with Ella and others and hand over those files of anyone there wants them, But otherwise she assumes that both her own files and Mom's will eventually go to the Chesco Hist Soc..

Cleared out the black two-drawer filing cabinet from the breakfast room: top drawer was taxes, bills, etc., bottom drawer was wills, family history, etc. Now both ar in the bottom drawer of the lateral file cabinet which I plan to put in the paneled bedroom. I'm planning to remove some of the built-out wall cabinet to make room for that.

Took 5 long bankers boxes to the Senior Center resale shop in Kennett.

-- BenDugan - 14 Dec 2013

Got out around 1.

Took apart the old bed from the E bedroom and put the boxspring & mattress in the garage. Built the new steel frame, using the included 1016 screws, and put the new mattress on it.

Got some sanding disks at Sears. Did a bunch of palm sanding, then realized that Mom's belt sander had a vacuum hookup, too, so I switched and did a few hours with that.

Got floor finish (Minwax water based polyurethane "oil modified") and sanding belts from Lowes).

-- BenDugan - 20 Dec 2013

Took 3 loads of stuff to SECCRA: 2 boxsprings, 2 mattresses, and 2 book cases (plus some cardboard). Each load was $5, and the round trips take 45 minutes or so. Great way to get rid of bigger things.

Cut the apple limbs away from the wires, finally.

Replaced the light junction box above the laundry window with a weather proof duplex receptacle, then put up the Christmas lights with a timer. They should turn on at dusk an stay on for 5 hours. There are still some missing bulbs.

Got a toolbox at Sears (for $9!) and a hearing protector. When I went into the bedroom today it was so echo-y I was afraid to turn on the belt sander because of the noise. I've used this now for a few hours and its great.

-- BenDugan - 21 Dec 2013

Today & yesterday: Continued cleaning up the bench in the basement, and fixed the wiring so that the lights over the bench turn on from the main switch at the top of the stairs. Put one more coat on the BR1 floor-- there were too many holidays! Started working on the marble-top dresser drawers. The slides are terribly worn, but I think I figured out how to make new slides just inside of the old ones with minimal impact.

Spoke with Joe Watson. He will try "servicing" the lower stage under the softener. The water tests indicate that there is still iron in the water, so the gel coated beads are not doing their thing fully. We should be putting a small amount of "iron out" in with the salt when we add that. This might not resolve the rotten egg smell but he thinks its the right thing to try first.

Arranged to see Rich Johnson tomorrow at the house.

-- BenDugan - 30 Dec 2013

Jeni and I spent New Year's Eve (last night) at Marlborough. It was very nice.

Rich Johnson did show up and looked the place over. He would like to rewire the fuse box to the panel in the garage as a first step. Then I asked for pricing for each of the rooms to add switches and receptacles. I told him its likely I don't have enough money to do all of it right away.

Next time:
  • fix dresser drawers, clean that up, put it back in BR1.
  • move one of the chests into BR1
  • put a rug in BR1
  • move rest of stuff from BR2, get ready to do floor there
  • find carpet cleaner near Kennett, take BR2 carpet
  • get pad for under BR2 carpet

-- BenDugan - 01 Jan 2014

  • get Rich Johnson's quote DONE
  • switch for Stephen's dryer DONE
  • take marble to Stonemasters DONE

  • move stove gas line, swap fridge & stove DONE

-- BenDugan - 11 Jan 2014

  • stop at Stirling bathroom place DONE
  • get rug cleaned - call Jan's see if possible today - scheduled for Feb
  • finish drawers and cleaning of marble top chest DONE
  • Rich Johnson should be checking in today DONE

  • bedroom 2 clean out - getting lower on storage space! DONE
  • kitchen - another round of sorting - patience! only me this time

Electrical prep:
  • open up wall in garage DONE (Sat)
  • drill joists for wires DONE (Sat)
  • attic: look for paths into bedrooms - still looking...

To clear out BR2 I emptied bookcases. Saved some, boxed the rest up for Senior Center book store. Needed room in BR3 so emptied the brick & board bookcase in there, too. Wound up with 8 bankers boxes (6 long, 2 short) of books. Also removed the desk from BR3: it was empty already. It was one of those (Sears maybe) that matched the dresser, with round pulls and a kind of orange stain finish. Stephen Leo will take it for his daughter to use. This made room for one of the (3!) chests from BR2 and also for the old desk from there. I put a second chest in the cedar closet. And the 3rd one I put in BR1. The bigger bookcase from BR2 is simple and well built, and fits over the baseboards nicely. I will probably repaint it and put it back there; its in the basement now.

-- BenDugan - 17 Jan 2014

Up at about 7. Started by drilling holes for wires in garage joists. Ny Seleniuk here at about 11, Andrea Morris here then too. Ny looked at bathroom skylight job and will send price estimate.

Andrea took the yarn from the cedar closet and will donate along with a bunch of wool she's getting rid of.

The wiring paths into the basement are pretty clear and it should be fast to do those. But, though I can see the wires going up into the house near the stairs into BR3, I lose them there. So I'm not sure yet about how to get wires into the attic.

-- BenDugan - 18 Jan 2014

-- BenDugan - 19 Jan 2014

Came out yesterday (Friday) at about 3:30. Rich Johnson had made a list and I did most of the things on it: drilled more holes in joists in the garage for wires, marked where to put lights in the living room, pulled furniture away from walls, removed cover plates. Still have to clear a path in the storeroom, though I am thinking of asking him not to run wires that way. Also removed a bunch of trash from the basement. Its too much for the tote. Might be good to take a load to the dump.

-- BenDugan - 25 Jan 2014

Plan for this weekend (Friday 1pm to Saturday 4pm):

  • make holes & run wires for Rich Johnson
  • tell him we have to stick to the estimate, so I need to do more of the prep., and he might need to wait for me to get it done

Next Friday I have to be there at 8:30 am, so I'll probably spend Thursday & Fri night. So Wednesday isn't great.

-- BenDugan - 31 Jan 2014

On Friday & Saturday I ran wires from BR2 into the attic, pulled up a few boards in the attic to expose paths, ran a wire to the light switch in BR1, ran a wire to the hall switch #1, took everything out of the attic and put it in the breakfast room, made holes & mounted 3 of 4 smoke detector boxes, ran 3 cond wires to smokes, removed one of the old feeds to second floor from sub panel, started re-doing 2nd floor hall light wiring, vacuumed up. What I did not finish is two (of the 6) of the recept.s in BR2, and the light sw there, because I couldn't quite figure out where the wires for those are now. Also, didn't get far in wiring BR1 but that was mainly b/c I ran out of 14-2 wire.

Jeremy (? Stephen Leo's friend) came and looked at bathroom job and will provide estimate within a week.

The electrical stuff was really good progress. On Friday I could really use a few pointers from Rich.

He has finished the basement , l.r., and kitchen, and I added the two lights in the LR.

-- BenDugan - 02 Feb 2014

Next weekend:
  • carpet cleaning at 10:30 on Friday

  • fish wire to R103 DONE
  • fish light switch to wall sconce, wall sconce to attic DONE
  • add box for R104, fish wire to it %%
  • add box for R105, fish wire to it DONE

  • fix R101: remove old wiring, fish new wire to it
  • fix R102: remove old wire, fish new one from R206

  • add box for wall sconce, fish wire to it.
  • fish wire from light switch to wall sconce (remove old light switch wire)
  • fish wire to R205
  • fish wire to R206

  • jump 2 lights together (disable switches)
  • run feed from lights to attic
  • run switch to lights

  • 2nd fl fish wire to 4-way
  • find how 3-way in 2-gang box gets to 1st fl
  • 1st fl fish wires from basement up to switches

-- BenDugan - 03 Feb 2014

I haven't started the above list yet but will soon.

This is to use in the future to estimate freezing in the house with power outages:

  • Temp in living room was 40 °F this morning
    • Electricity went off Weds morning
    • Today is Saturday
    • I heated the place up a bit on Thursday (with a fire and with the oven on) - to about 62 in the living room
  • Temp in BR3 was also 39 or 40 °F (I left door to that room open intentionally)
  • temp outside has been (roughly) 28 °F day high, 15 °F night low

I drained the water from everything Thursday before I left. Today it took ~ 1.5 hour to get the water back into the pipes and radiators.

-- BenDugan - 08 Feb 2014

All of a sudden the monitoring stuff is working. A few days ago I set up dynamic dns through and that got me thinking about this again. I spent some time getting email working. And I fiddled with the python ozw examples, so now it spits out lines with temperature, luminance, etc., every five minutes. I can now think about optimizing it ( to:

  • log the numbers to a file
  • display things graphically
  • send email conditionally

-- BenDugan - 13 Feb 2014

Work has been continuing but I haven't added notes for a few weeks.

The electrical work is done and working, though I need to add cover plates before it can be inspected.

I started bathroom demo yesterday, removing the tub and about 1/3rd of the plaster/sheetrock in the shower area. I capped off the water pipes, but should add shutoff valves (at the moment the whole house has to be turned off to work on the bathroom). There are 1/2" copper tees in the floor in the bathroom sending water from the basement either towards the sink or the tub. But they are flared copper fittings so they take up a lot of space and they're hard to access because they're in the floor about half way between the tub and the toilet. But they seem to be ok and we can just switch to soldered stuff where its accessible.

The simpler of the two kitchen counters is almost done. Just have to make the shorter backsplash and the attach both backsplashes.

Stephen is making progress on painting BR2.

Next weekend I'll get Jeremy to look at the bathroom and we'll decide which sections of plaster to take out and where to run pipes. The roof rafters are coming down in the middle of the shower instead of being aligned with one wall or something like that which might have been more convenient. So there are design questions: which ones to cut, which to leave, where to put headers, which size window to buy.

  • make small end backsplash
  • cut 2nd counter MDF & glue up
  • put 354 sign back in ground (it had rotted, had to replace the spike)
  • wire up receptacle 20x in BR2?
  • get into bathroom floor in corner and remove 2 dead wires?
  • sketch shower area dimensions with rafters for planning

-- BenDugan - 02 Mar 2014

Lots of progress last weekend:
  • demo in bathroom complete: all wall & ceilings around shower gone
  • new water pipes with shutoffs in crawl space, ready for shower set connection
  • got both old dead wires out and ran new wire to receptacle in BR2 (not connected yet)
  • took out toilet
  • Ny visited and can put in the skylight this week
  • Jeremy starts his work today
  • ordered shower pan to arrive in about 1 week

So we should have the shower done in two weeks.

I need to get about 50 sq ft of 3/4" T & G flooring.

-- BenDugan - 10 Mar 2014

Had a second inquiry today and this one sounds really promising: its a couple with young kids who want to visit their mother who is at Kendal. But she wants it on April 17 or 18. Can we have it ready by then, even if its not perfect?

Must at least:
  • BR1 done
  • BR2
    • painting done w/i 2 weeks
    • sand & finish floors - 2 weeks
  • finish bathroom
    • shower/tile/skylight should be done late next week
    • I plan to replace floor with oak (could do tomorrow, probably)
  • finish kitchen
    • 2nd counter - two weekends
    • floor - optional for now
  • water quality?
  • living room
    • not enough time to paint

Its probably not realistic, though its not far off.

-- BenDugan - ~14 Mar 2014

The skylight is in! Ny installed it yesterday. Its very cool. Its at a height that makes it so you can't see the tin shack but you can see the tops of those pines by the driveway. At night you can see stars.

And the shower pan is here now. I'm here today and tomorrow and hope to:

Kitchen sink -

  • re-do plumbing to kitchen sink, with pipes in new spots
  • put sink cabinet back
  • put in new cabinet floor under sink with holes for pipes & drain
  • make sink cabinet backsplashes
  • mount top & backsplashes permanently
  • cutout sink hole
  • mount sink & hook up

Shower pan -
  • get floor figured out
  • hook up drain

-- BenDugan - 22 Mar 2014

Got a lot of the above steps done yesterday, should almost finish them today.

The front door knob "spindle" broke: Its called a swivel spindle apparently, and is 4.5" long, and I count 19 threads per inch but it should be either 16 or 20, so I'm gonna guess 20.

I replaced it with one from the living room door that we rarely use, and I'll try to find replacement. I see them online but I might have one in Philly already.

-- BenDugan - 22 Mar 2014

I'm going out later today and will start removing the T&G boards from the bathroom floor, to get to the sub-floor. The sub-floor is diagonal planks of good old wood, 7/8" thick. I'll put tar paper down, mark the joist locations, and nail in the new oak floor boards.

I'm expecting to find the shower tiled & grouted, and ready to use except for no glass door. But maybe there will be some trim needed or something like that.

-- BenDugan - 04 Apr 2014

Still waiting for tiling to be done: the small amount of bull-nose tile that was back ordered has brought it to a long halt. But that should be fixed next week.

These are smaller things that need doing now:

  • wire up last receptacle in bigger bedroom DONE
  • cover plates on receptacles in bigger bedroom DONE
  • install light in bigger bedroom DONE
  • install light in 2nd floor hall DONE
  • saw up mulberry (or cherry) from winter DONE
  • sand and coat front door threshold DONE
  • mount pot rack behind stove DONE
  • remove more dirt from front garden DONE

-- BenDugan - 25 Apr 2014

Bathroom Tiling is done. I paid Jeremy the final payment on that. Getting estimate for glass from Kennett Glass by email Monday. Should be around $1000 for semi-frameless version.

  • get water cooler for good drinking water DONE
  • installed shelf and rod to left of sink DONE
  • finished larger counter (glued backsplash to wall & caulked) DONE
  • cleared counters DONE
  • took tub & toilet to Re-Store DONE
  • (deposited two small checks into the estate account) DONE
  • dropped another small load of KURRC stuff at Marlene's DONE
  • clean up backyard and make a open-able section for mowing DONE
  • built bed and added mattress in east BR DONE
  • put rug back in east BR & vacuumed DONE
  • put chest of drawers in east BR DONE

Should get estimate from Paradise Cleaners on Monday by email.

-- BenDugan - 04 May 2014

  • buy sheets DONE
  • buy pillows DONE
  • buy towels DONE
  • buy towel rack (1) DONE
  • buy plastic bag holder DONE
  • buy lights for bathroom DONE
  • buy shelf for over sink DONE

-- BenDugan - 07 May 2014

  • Bathroom
    • check grout situation DONE (Jeremy will re-grout for ~$350, using gray)
    • towel racks DONE
    • install shelf over sink DONE
    • install new lights over sink, fix paint DONE
    • install toilet DONE

-- BenDugan - 09 May 2014

  • Living room
    • sort out stuff & store some DONE
    • patch hole in ceiling DONE

  • 2nd floor hall
    • patch switch plate left of stairs DONE
    • repair handrail (polyurethane?) DONE

-- BenDugan - 24 May 2014

  • Bathroom
    • glass door & wall install DONE

-- BenDugan - 30 May 2014

  • Kitchen
    • clear out wood cabinet in kitchen, tighten up, then put back necessary stuff DONE
    • sort kitchen things and put in storage DONE

The kitchen is done, but can still benefit from lining all the shelves (about half are lined now), and we should get a coffee machine and a toaster to add.

-- BenDugan - 31 May 2014

  • Living room
    • decorate a little (hang pictures)

  • Bathroom
    • toilet paper holder
    • soap/shampoo shelf in shower

  • Breakfast room:
    • cleanup. Then: how to use this room?


  • sand and coat back door threshold
    • floor mat
Things that can wait:

  • get barbecue
  • buy other bedding

Home Away

Today is June 1 and the house is almost ready for its first rental on June 27/28/29. What it needs most now is superficial things:
  • cleaning
  • picture hanging
  • organization
  • some labeling
  • front door lock DONE
  • coffee maker
  • toaster

-- BenDugan - 01 Jun 2014

Today I'm going to try to install 3 new locks:
  • back door & garage door: mechanical deadbolts, keyed alike DONE
  • front door: kwikset electronic lock w/ 2 codes DONE

The plan is to have the front door be for main access, and a key inside for the garage and back door.

This will probably take a few hours of fiddling & fitting.

Jeni is coming too, to work on curtains. And Max is coming to work on the TV antenna.

-- BenDugan - 04 Jun 2014

Jeni made the closet curtains for the bedrooms, planted some nice plants in the front garden, and got air conditioners for the bedrooms. And she bought the TV antenna which Max assembled. And the antenna works! We only tested it on the porch roof, but digital channels came in nice & clear, so that is just great. It now needs to be properly mounted and wired.

-- BenDugan - 05 Jun 2014

Jeni and I have just spent 3 days here and its ready to rent now. There are odds & ends that are not quite ready but its close enough. We really got a lot done:

  • mounted & wired up the tv antenna
  • hung the living room curtains
  • added a toaster and a coffee maker (for ~$25 total!)
  • pointed the chimney
  • painted over the kitchen mural
  • hung pictures and the long saw in the living room
  • cleaned up & put things away more
  • changed the front door lock code
  • much more I can't remember

-- BenDugan - 21 Jun 2014

Next time: Take small piece of sheetrock to patch in closet. Bathroom gets 2nd towel rack. Washer: slow inlet (maybe later).

-- BenDugan - 23 Jun 2014

Today I will try to add a slot to the laundry room window so the latch will work. Right now that window doesn't really lock. And I will take another stab at security. Specifically, I would like to (a) get a text when the indoor motion sensor triggers, and (b) be able to look at the garage webcam from my phone.

Security stuff again: its been so long since I tried looking at video or the motion sensor that I'd forgotten all the server info.

The video camera is on It can be viewed on a cell phone at rtsp:// For some reason, that doesn't work on a laptop, even though it does when I use the local address. But the phone is a good way to check it anyway.

NO-IP: this had an old address. Once I updated it, things worked again. But it should update by quaker (the server in the basement) running "noip2" and, finding that its own address has changed, telling no-ip what its new one is. quaker was off, so it couldn't have done that updating. But why was it off? It should boot on power up. Need to check that.

Also: there's a dns server running on the router so "ssh quaker" finds the server when its running. No need to find its ip by browsing to the router.

The router login is my most commonly used name and password. So it took me 20 tries before I went back the main one and then it worked.

-- BenDugan - 02 Aug 2014

Can ssh to from 3527 and the python script is running along merrily recording temps & luminance, etc. If the sensor was not always "True" I think it might actually be able to email when it changed. Seems like I should restart it and see if its still always True.

-- BenDugan - 25 Aug 2014

The basement benefits from an open window in the summer; without that it gets really musty smelling. But I don't feel good leaving the window open when I'm away because rodents and people might find it inviting. So I was thinking about a ventilation fan, but the more I read the more complicated those seem (maybe they bring in wetter air, or maybe they would starve the heater burner?). I think the best thing might be to make a good screened window with several meshes and possibly a bar for security. I want to do the same thing in Philly.

-- BenDugan - 15 Sep 2014

Yesterday Jeni and I came out and we bought a 32" TV and flannel sheets on the way. The bed is extremely cozy now. And the TV fits well above the old TV cabinet. Mom wouldn't like it being visible all the time, but I think its worth it to be able, for example, to read the Wallander subtitles from the couch.

And I installed a thermostat last week (Honeywell RTH6500WF) that is working well now through wifi, so the schedule can set remotely and the temperature can be checked easily. This won't help when there's a power outage, unfortunately. But it perfect for turning the temp up or down when come & go.

-- BenDugan - 23 Nov 2014


Thinking about starting asparagus: the old bed is very weak on it. The first step is really to weed it and stake out the area so its clear, because its all weeds and grass now. The seeds I have can apparently be planted outside, allowed to just grow this year, then 'set' in rows next year. But I also see instructions online showing them being sprouted indoors ad then planted outside, so I'm not sure which way to go. Also, I have 125 seeds which I think is a ton. Probably just plant half outside, half in, and see how they go. Here's the seed packet info:


Related: the tiller won't start. There's no spark. I suspect the points are bad, but I also need to get a new air filter. These parts are available online. It might take a while to get this going so I want to till up the asparagus patch by hand first.

-- BenDugan - 14 May 2015

I planted the asparagus last Sunday (5/24), straight into the soil.

Smoke Alarms

These are too sensitive! Michelle White was staying at our house and was woken in the night by it, several times. Her husband disconnected the one in the master bedroom and it stopped. I need to look into this to see if anything can be done.

-- BenDugan - 28 May 2015

Coming back to this now because yesterday they went off when the oil heater was on, and the voice annunciator said both "Fire!" and "Carbon Monoxide". I don't think there was smoke: I didn't see any. But I got a heater service person to come and check it out anyway (and he said it looked fine to him).

As it is, I have the big bedroom detector disconnected because it seemed the worst. And the ground floor hall detector is covered because it goes off if you light the oven. They basically suck. At a minimum, replacement ones should:

  • indicate which one is actually causing the alarm (this is not clear at all)
  • be disable-able for ~ a half hour, instead of coming back on every few minutes
  • send notifications to me somehow (wifi, bluetooth?)

These seem to go off and then kind of shrug their shoulders and say "my bad"; now that you've reset me I can see I was wrong. Which is extremely annoying.

The model is Kidde i12060A.

Lots of 'reviews' and compaints about this fire detector but also some suggestions that might help. And it sounds like it is not the worst one out there, either. Things to try:

  • disconnect, remove battery, hold test button down: this resets things and may help
  • clean with compressed air 1x/year
  • change from ionization type to photoelectric type for one near kitchen

-- BenDugan - 21 Aug 2016
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
20130721_170344.jpgjpg 20130721_170344.jpg manage 52 K 22 Jul 2013 - 01:23 BenDugan  
354_windows.pngpng 354_windows.png manage 163 K 27 Oct 2013 - 23:01 BenDugan  
asparagus_pack.pngpng asparagus_pack.png manage 415 K 14 May 2015 - 11:02 BenDugan  
darkroom_gone.jpgjpg darkroom_gone.jpg manage 111 K 17 Nov 2013 - 04:26 BenDugan  
darkroom_half_gone.jpgjpg darkroom_half_gone.jpg manage 69 K 17 Nov 2013 - 04:27 BenDugan  
Topic revision: r92 - 12 Sep 2019, BenDugan
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